The first thing you need is an idea. Something to write about. Here’s an easy one. What is the most common question your clients ask you about QuickBooks? Answer that question, or go dig up from your sent items, the e-mail you just wrote answering that questions. Your “Sent” box is a great place to check for blog posts you’ve already written.
Now you just need to clean it up and get it into a document format.
How about an introduction to QuickBooks Online?
That’s what we’re going to write. In fact it’s time right now to break out a Google Doc of your own, because you’re going to write your version of this, while I write mine. We’re going to write it together.
First we need to organize the content. What will we cover?
Before we can do that, we need to decide whom we’re writing this for.
A business owner who knows nothing of accounting?
Or an accounting professional like a CPA, who knows accounting, but may not be familiar with the software yet?
Let’s do this one for the business owner who knows nothing of accounting.
You could also make this industry specific, which is a good idea, if you have your “three” nailed down by now. I am going to keep mine generic, but if you write your version as an industry specific post, that would be awesome! Just use what I am doing here as a guide.
Now let’s open up the software, so we can look around, and try and get inside the mind of someone who has no clue what they are looking at. What do we want to show them, in order to get them comfortable poking around, and getting started?
Let’s make some bullet points about what we want to show them. Then we can see what we will keep, what we will remove. Then we expand upon what we’ve kept.
- Overview of the navigation from the home screen
- The left Nav
- Gear icon
- Quick Create (Plus Sign)
- Sales / Customers / Products & Services
- Expenses / Vendors
- Accounting / Chart of Accounts
- Basic Transactions
- Expense / Check
The above is already enough for an Intro to QBO post.
Now let’s write. Each major bullet point is gong to be H2 (heading 2), and each sub-point is H3.
Before we dig into the outline, we need an introductory paragraph. Also the title is going to be re-written. It’s the last thing we write, and I have a process for this.
Introduction to QuickBooks Online
Assuming you are new to accounting and QuickBooks, then it follows that you will want to get an introduction to QuickBooks Online. Yes, QuickBooks Online is easy to use, on the surface. Just follow the forms, and fill them out. Easy enough right? That is until you run a Balance Sheet, and a Profit and Loss statement, and things don’t look right.
If you don’t have your own QuickBooks Online company to follow along with yet, use this link to get into the QuickBooks Online Test Drive company:
Let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to get you started, using QuickBooks Online.
Overview of the navigation from the home screen
The left Nav
On the left are the major “Centers” that you’ll want to work with. You can read down the left, and it is fairly straight-forward:
- My Accountant
Of course you should click around and explore. That is really the best way to learn all of this. Further down, and in the video, I will go through some of the areas where I think your attention is best spent, in the beginning. This should acquaint you well with QuickBooks Online.
Before we dig into the details, let’s look at the top right of your screen. We have the gear icon, and the “Quick Create” which is the + sign.
The gear icon is where you can access settings, lists, and tools. Click on it. Review it, and get familiar with what you will find here. The other rule is, if you can’t find it anywhere else, it is probably in here.
Quick Create (Plus Sign)
From this icon, you can create ANY transaction. Just click on it, and you will find anything and everything you would need to do in any set of books for any kind of industry.
Let’s focus on the transactions you will most likely want to post right away.
- Invoicing Customers
- Writing checks / Recording Expenses
- Building your Chart of Accounts (where your transactions live)
- Making Deposits – especially if your business is new, and the first thing you need to do is set up your bank account with that initial deposit.
Most accountants would want you to look at the chart of accounts first. I think it has better context, for a non-accountant business owner, if you’ve posted a few transactions first. If I were writing this for a new bookkeeping, or accounting professional, I would do it the other way around.
There are a number of lists in QuickBooks Online (and all accounting software). As an introduction to QuickBooks Online, we’re going to focus on a few of them. These are the lists that are likely to come up first, when you are just getting started, and you want to begin entering basic transactions right away.
Sales / Customers / Products & Services
When you click “Sales” in the left navigation, you will have access to everything having to do with sales, and customers, and your products and services. From the sales area, you will see the three tabs across the top.
gives you a complete list of all sales transactions, such as invoices and sales receipts. Important! This will not include deposits that you recorded, and coded to an income account. A “deposit” is not considered a sales transaction, even though you use an income account.
This of course is a list of invoices only.
This is where you should plan on spending some time, because hopefully you will have a lot of customers to add. Best thing to do is add a customer, and go through the screens. Be as detailed as possible. Having the information here will help in many areas, such as forms, and emails you’ll want to send to customers with invoices.
Note the tabs near the bottom, when you are entering / editing a customer. The notes area can be a really handy thing. I use this to keep billing notes for when I am invoicing a client’s customers. In some cases, I make it part of my process to have clients give me a copy of all new contracts, so I can find, and copy and paste billing info into the notes.
Expenses / Vendors
This section is self explanatory. Just like Sales has everything you need to manage sales and customers, Expenses has everything you need to manage your expenses and vendors.
Expenses is a list of all expense transactions. Note Payroll entries do not show up here, if you’re using QBO Payroll.
Add a vendor to get used to that screen, and the kind of information you can track.
Accounting / Chart of Accounts
This is where your transactions live. Now that you’ve had a chance to enter an invoice, and an expense, or two, let’s look at the chart of accounts.
When you enter an expense, you choose an account, such as Office Supplies. Office Supplies is an expense account that shows up on your chart of accounts.
You also chose a bank or credit card account, which is how that expense was paid for.
Your bank accounts are “Assets” in your chart of accounts. QuickBooks Online reserves “Bank Account” as a special type of asset.
If you paid with a credit card, then you owe that money to the credit card company now. Accordingly, Credit Card accounts are liabilities.
The Sales are a little more complicated.
As you saw above, you will want to use Invoices, or Sales Receipts, to be sure that all of your sales show up in the list of Sales Transactions.
To post an invoice, or sales receipt, you will need to understand the products and services list. Remember that this list is also accessible from the Sales Menu on the left.
Your products and services are the things you sell to your customers. For me it may look like this:
Products and Services
- 1 to 1 Training Services
- Subscription Training Services
- Accounting, Bookkeeping, and Consulting Services
Each of these products and services needs to be linked to an income account. It may look like this:
- 1 to 1 Training Services ——— Training Revenue
- Subscription training Services ——— Training Revenue
- Accounting, Bookkeeping, and Consulting Services ——— Consulting Revenue
You’ll want to create the income accounts first, so that they are there to link to, when you set up your products.
- Training Revenue
- Consulting Revenue
The basic idea here is that I can be as detailed as I want to be in my products and services list, while keeping my chart of accounts simple.
As I mentioned above, you don’t want to record Sales Transactions directly into a deposit. So what WOULD you record in a deposit?
For starters, that opening deposit when you first open your bank account. Other examples of how you would use a Deposit transaction type in QuickBooks Online would be:
- Loan received from the bank
- Other cash contributions into the business
- Someone repaying a loan you made to them
Other expense types (eg) Credit Card Transactions
When you record a credit card charge, you will create an “Expense.” This is exactly like a check, but without a check number, and your source account, will be a credit card account, instead of a bank account.
The video above should clarify a lot of what you see above in terms of how to get started with QuickBooks Online. For everything else, there is a comments box below. Please use it, and ask any questions you have. We love getting and responding to comments.
Also, if you want to take this to the next level, consider our online course right here called, “Bookkeeping Fundamentals with Cloud Accounting Applications.”
We take you behind the forms, so that you really understand what you’re doing each time you save a transaction in QuickBooks Online. We also cover three other cloud accounting apps.
End of blog post.
What to do after you’ve written your blog post
If you follow this format, you will find that the post practically writes itself. I did, and this one is pretty long too. Over 1,300 words. Normally you want to keep it to around 600 words. We could look at breaking this up into two posts, but I already have ideas for some follow up posts that can be done.
It’s ok to write a long post like this, especially when it is so well outlined.
To re-cap, we wrote the bullet points first.
Then we write the copy to expand on each point.
Then we have a really well organized blog post.
Writing Your Title
Now we have to write a proper title, and for this I have a process, and even a template I want to share with you.
You’re going to need two things:
I created these documents based on these articles:
We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines. Here’s What We Learned (New Research)
How to Write Viral Headlines: New BuzzSumo Research
There is a formula for writing headlines. Your blog title is a headline.
Fill out the Google Sheet. Use a word from the Common Elements document for each section. Then you compile your title. This is also where we want to figure out what our SEO Key Phrase is. It has to appear in the title.
My blog post is an introduction to QuickBooks for small business owners. Let’s see what I can come up with for a title:
A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with QuickBooks Online
Focus Keyword: Getting Started with QuickBooks Online
Now we’re ready to optimize the post, and that is what the next lesson, “How to Use Yoast SEO to Optimize Your Writing” is all about.
Make sure you have your post written before moving on to the next lesson.